Medical Q&As

Frequent coughs and colds - normal?

My son was 2 in August and he has a constant cough and stuffed nose. Is there something I can do so he wonít catch this again when the weather really changes and becomes colder? He is a healthy boy with no problems normally.

Some toddlers always seem to have a runny nose and this can be a cause of great concern to parents. It is important to realise that repeated episodes of coughs and colds are quite normal and do not indicate a particular vulnerability or weakness in the child. Each time your child has an episode of respiratory infection his immune system is challenged and he develops antibodies against the particular virus. If he comes into contact with that virus again he produces an antibody response and eliminates the virus and does not develop an infection on that occasion. However there is a myriad of viruses that produce respiratory infection and this process of virus attack and antibody response is replicated many times over. Hence the perception that he always seems to be getting sick. Eventually the childís level of antibody production reaches the stage that his level of immunity is high and he no longer catches infection as easily as in the past. This may sound perverse but repeated episodes of infection are good for the childís health because this is the mechanism through which the immune system is strengthened. You do say that your son is a healthy little boy so I donít think you need to take particular precautions with him. There is some evidence that vitamin c may have some protective effect against respiratory infection. So you might like to give him such supplementation for the winter. I would consider the pattern you have described to be very common and would consider it normal.